I start seeing more articles that emphasize the social ‘features’ over the social ‘network’ (also see my post Increasing relevance by adding social networking features). This video on FriendConnect shows some examples and makes the difference more obvious.
I love Nova Spivack’s comparison to cars and how the choice of a Social Network will come down to personal preference (ultimately determined by brand). For this to happen the Social Networks will have to open up and support a common base feature set. This is already happening today but will accelerate. I’m convinced that soon most of our online activity will be aware of our friends and that ‘social context’ will lead to a more relevant user experience:
- Amazon book and NetFlix movie suggestions based on what your friends like
- Craiglist and ebay items from friends of friends
- Search results ranking enhanced by sites friends clicked on
- Yelp reviews and ratings from friends rather than 200 strangers
- News that your friends have read
Things to think about:
- ‘Friend’ is probably to strong a term. What are better terms? How will this evolve over time?
- ‘Soocial context’ brings trust. Trust brings economic opportunities.
- How can the 2nd and 3rd degree be used especially on commercial sites (LinkedIn is already using this)?
- When will large retail sites grasp the concept and what kind of opportunities will arise?
And the big question is: How can the Social Networks be open (interop) and closed (privacy) at the same time?